Winchester City Council land not to be made available for Whiteley School: Alternatives should be explored

Winchester City Council's Cabinet has rejected a proposal to build a new school on recreational open space land next to the Meadowside Leisure Centre, Whiteley following public consultation. Their recommendation will now go to full Council on 19 July.

Cllr George Beckett, Leader of the Council, said "Following consultation with residents in Whiteley we all have serious concerns over the loss of recreational space and the provision of alternative open space which was offered was not adequate. Cabinet also took into account the clearly stated views of local people in response to the statutory consultation.

"There is no doubt that there is a need for a school in Whiteley and also no doubt of the need for recreational facilities. These needs have to be balanced but we have concluded that school provision will only be delayed, whereas this recreational ground would have been lost forever. We will now be talking to the County and the Diocese of Portsmouth to see where we go from here".

The City Council's Cabinet had asked for comments on its proposal to dispose of part of the recreational land so that Hampshire County Council and the Diocese of Portsmouth could provide a new primary school.

Today's (10 July) Cabinet meeting heard there had been 119 representations from local residents against the school being sited on the recreational land, and 36 in favour. In addition Whiteley Parish Council and Hampshire Playing Fields Association are opposed to the County Council's plan. Whiteley Junior Football Club also sent in a petition with 116 signatures against the proposal.

Those in support said the school was "greatly needed" to meet the needs of the community, need outweighed the loss of open space, and that the County Council had agreed to offer some replacement open space.

Those against said there was a reduction in recreational opportunities, the County Council has other options but chooses not to consider them, and there was an impact on local residents with the re-siting of pitches and courts.

Cllr Beckett thanked the County Council for the real efforts they had made to find alternative recreation land. "I recognise they had offered as much as they had available".